Poker Night at the Inventory 2 Review
Poker is universal. From the flashiest casino to the tiniest watering hole, this time-tested game can be found the world over. That has not stopped Telltale Games from Doubling Down with Poker Night at the Inventory 2, a new version of their poker series that brings familiar faces and familiar rules to the table. Will this sequel get card sharks to go all-in…again?
The rules are simple in Poker Night at the Inventory 2. All matches come down to a never-ending game of Texas Hold ‘Em poker (or Omaha poker) with four other characters, a dealer, and $20,000 in chips. Everything is by the books, making it easy for gambling vets to jump right in. For those less experienced, there is a handy “Cheat Sheet” one can pull out anytime, making each hand go smoothly.
Unfortunately, this simplicity is a double-edged sword. There are two types of poker in Poker Night 2…and nothing else. There are superficial options like a drink ordering system and custom backgrounds, but there is nothing substantial to be found. When one considers how there are many other poker types exist (7-Card Stud, High/Low, Pai gow), it seems like a lazy oversight.
Perhaps the biggest oversight is the fact that the entire game is single-player. This also makes it that much harder to read opponents, as many of the best poker matches come from the mind games that take place between each hand. Put simply, poker is one of those games best played with friends, and playing Poker Night 2 by your lonesome just feels…lonely.
This is one of those cases where style definitely comes over substance, but the style found in Poker Night 2 is a mixed bag. Each of the four characters (five counting the dealer) hails from different game, television, and movie universe. There is some novelty seeing GLaDOS (Portal) deal cards to Brock Samson (The Venture Bros.) and Sam (Sam & Max), but not every guest is a welcome one.
The ever-annoying Claptrap (Borderlands) makes an appearance here, and each of his pop-culture laced one-liners is worse than the last. Others like Ash Williams (The Evil Dead/Army of Darkness) would be stellar additions, but this rendition had his soul (and voice actor) sucked dry, no doubt by the Necronomicon. As the game lives and dies by its dialog, these two changes make what would have been riveting banter into something that grates on the nerves, something only amplified when those one-liners repeat themselves due to a lack of voice clips.
Poker Night 2 could have been a hotshot, but it simply cannot bring the goods. The series shouldn’t fold just yet though – with the right characters and modes, it will be the next big sensation in no time flat.